Nothing new about a Rams-Bucs rivalry

by Gary Shelton on January 20, 2022

in general

Will Tristan Wirfs Be Able to Play?/Tim Wirt

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Once, they were the opposite sides of a coin, the yin-and-yang of pro football. Once, they were the irresistible force and the immovable object, the perfect argument over whether defense was more important than offense.

On one side of the field were those Rams (then in St. Louis), a fireworks show on offense. They were future Hall of famers Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk and Issac Bruce and Orlando Pace. They were the darnest offense to ever win only one Super Bowl. Blame the defense.

On the other side of the field were those Tampa Bay Bucs, a relentless dispaly of defese. They were future Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp and John Lynch and finalist Ronde Barber. There were the darnedest defense ever to win only one Super Bowl. Blame the offense.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

The Rams won the big game between the two, the NFL title game at the end of the 1999 season. But the Bucs won the next three meetings (before Warner left the team).

Now, they are on a collision course again. The Rams, who have returned to Los Angeles, invade for a 3 p.m. NFC Division Championship game. Again, both teams are loaded with stars.

Say this for the Rams. They've been as aggressive as the Bucs at chasing stars. They've brought in Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller and Matt Stafford and Odell Beckham in pursuit of a Super Bowl.

"They have weapons all over," Bucs' safety Antoine Winfield said. "The receivers are good, running backs are good, the quarterback is good, and they have a good offensive line. They have weapons everywhere. We just have to do our job of just making sure we contain those players. That’s what we’re practicing right now and that’s what we’re working on, so that’s the goal just to contain all those guys.”

The offense starts with Stafford and receiver Cooper Kupp.

“He’s one of the best," Bucs' coach Bruce Arians said of Kupp.
I think he and Chris Godwin, to me, are the best all-around receivers in the league because they block, they do everything – inside, outside. They’re very comparable, and you know how I think about Chris. Cooper, he’s a challenge. You can’t double team him all day, that’s for sure – they have too many other weapons. You just have to own up your guy and fight him. He’s a hard tackle just like Chris is.”

It is the other side of the ball that gives the Rams a chance to win.

"Defensively, they’re playing as [well] as anybody in the league right now," Arians said.

It was the addition of Miller that might have put the Rams over the top.

“Von is a great player," Bucs' tight end Rob Gronkowski said. "I played against him many times when he was out in Denver. He’s super quick. He can shoot off the ball at any time and just brings another dynamic to that defense. They can set that edge out there with Von and get that pass rush out there. He brings a lot of pressure to the game – a lot of pressure he brings to the offense because he’s quick and he can get to a quarterback really fast.”

Do the Bucs have enough to beat the Rams? We'll see.

“We know postseason is a whole different ballgame," Bucs' receiver Mike Evans said. "You get the best of the best, all-out effort. Everybody is straining to make sure they are playing the next week. I’ve always liked playing a team that beats us. Even in the regular season if we’re playing a division opponent that beat us the first time, I want to beat them bad the second time. Like last year, we played the Saints twice and I wanted to play them because they beat us twice in the regular season. I wanted to play them again this year, but it didn’t happen that way. I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge come Sunday.” 


Previous post:

Next post: